Indiana U.S. Senator Dan Coats joined Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk Friday morning to highlight the economic benefits of the proposed Illiana Expressway project during a joint press conference by the two Republicans at the Union League Club in Chicago.
According to a press release from Senator Coats' office, both the Illinois and Indiana Departments of Transportation are working together to build the project as a public-private partnership, in which a private contractor would design, build and operate the new roadway.
Senator Coats said that both states are, "demonstrating that regional problems require regional solutions." The senator added, "By partnering together...we can solve some of our region's biggest transportation challenges." He said, "Increasing opportunities to distribute goods made all over Indiana is good for Hoosier job creation and economic growth."
The project would create around 9,000 construction jobs with $1.3 billion in wages over a 30-year period, according to the release. In addition the Illiana Expressway is expected to provide $1 million in daily travel time savings and will help truck traffic bypass the Chicago metropolitan area.
Senator Coats, who later in the day delivered the keynote address at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Regional Meeting in Merrillville (above photo), took the opportunity to talk about his earlier press conference with Senator Kirk saying that it seemed to him that one of the things that can keep predicted growth and a "staggering number of new jobs in the Region" from happening is a "dysfunctional transportation system" by not having an alternative way to move goods other than a congested interstate.
Meanwhile, Senator Kirk echoed the infrastructure of President Abraham Lincoln by pointing out that in order to construct the 2,000 mile transcontinental railroad, Lincoln resourced private railroads to build the tracks in exchange for land rights.
Region News Team speaks with U.S. Indiana Dan Coats after workshop appearance at the Radisson, on his way to deliver the keynote at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Regional Meeting.
Facing yet another audience, Senator Coats also talked about the joint press conference when he spoke briefly at a free workshop for small businesses in northwest Indiana titled, "Indiana Get Your Business Online," sponsored by Google and held at the Radisson in Merrillville.